Samsung In Hot Water Over PR Moves
If you create a product such as a phone or gaming system, and you know there will be benchmarks used to find out how well your product is doing, should you modify your device to run at a faster speed especially for these types of benchmarks? This is one of many ethical questions that companies have wrestled with for a long time. This week, there are reports that Samsung may be doing just that with its Galaxy S4. Anandtech discovered that when it ran a benchmark program on the phone, the clock speed would go up. In response, Samsung denies this, saying that the GPU frequency will go up when running certain full screen apps. However, it's worth pointing out that many games run in full screen and the phone does not do this behavior.
At the same time, a popular programmer and blogger posted his account with the company Fllu, a PR firm working for Samsung, who apparently asked him to insert questions and replies to StackOverflow, the most popular forum for developers, in order to promote an upcoming Samsung challenge. According to his account, the PR firm sent messages to popular users on the site, asking for their help to post casual and organic phrases that would refer to the Samsung promotion. After he posted this, the firm quickly backpedaled, saying that they would never want to break the terms of service of the site.
Needless to say, this was a bad week for Samsung as far as PR is concerned. Of course none of these things are illegal, and it's hard to prove whether it was bad judgment or unethical behavior. But it's a good example that shows how quickly a story like that can take off. Any semblance of unethical behavior can bring down a product or an entire company, which is why so many marketing classes point out the importance of being above board whenever you represent a product or company.